Grassroots Leadership Blog

Dennis DeConcini - Resign from CCA Now

Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame:  Every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

Today's Humpday Hall of Shame inductee is former Democratic Arizona Senator Dennis DeConcini.  DeConcini, who served in the Senate from 1977 until 1995, sits on the board of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

DeConcini's membership on the CCA board makes him complicit in the anti-immigrant actions of CCA.   See what the Fuerza Coalition has to say after the jump.

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Who's pushing private prisons in New Hampshire?

Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame:  Every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

For today's Humpday Hall of Shame, we go back to New Hampshire to look at who is being paid to push private prisons in the "Live Free or Die State."  They include the current mayor of Concord and several well-connected lobbyists.

According the New Hampshire Business Review, the current Request for Proposals to privatize the state's entire prison system would reach historic proportions:

"Will New Hampshire become the first state in the nation to hand over its entire prison population to a corporation based out of state? And is it in the middle of doing so right now?  The New Hampshire Department of Corrections has put out a request for proposal that would essentially hand over the keys to a future penitentiary to an outside contractor for 20 years. Though the RFP still has to clear several hurdles, four companies have responded with plans to build, and probably run, a new prison for all of New Hampshire's male (and perhaps female) inmates."  ("Proposal under review would put all New Hampshire prisoners in private, for-profit facilities -- the first state to do so," April 6) Read more about Who's pushing private prisons in New Hampshire?

Corrections Corp. of America Pours Money into Idaho Republican Coffers

Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame:  Every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

This is the second in a two-part piece on the history of the State of Idaho’s contracting with private prison corporations.

Last week we reported that Idaho, despite a long run of horror stories and lawsuits involving private prison corporations, continues to contract with private prison companies like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).   CCA operates the Idaho Correctional Center, a facility with the reputation so violent that it has earned the nickname “Gladiator School” from people incarcerated there.

This week, we will explore a possible explanation for Idaho's continued contracts with private prison corporations in Idaho - campaign contributions to influential politicians in the state.  According to data from InfluenceExplorer.comCorrections Corporation of America has donated more than $119,000 in campaign contributions to Idaho politicians since 2002.   GEO Group donated another $14,400 in just two election cycles - 2006 and 2008.  See who has profitted the most from this lobbying money after the jump. Read more about Corrections Corp. of America Pours Money into Idaho Republican Coffers

All Eyes on Crete, Illinois, As Senate Takes Steps Against Privatization of All Prisons and Detention Centers

Grassroots Leadership applauds the passage of Illinois SB 1064, which would prohibit the state from contracting “…with a private contractor or private vendor for the provision of services relating to the operation of a correctional or detention facility." The bill passed in 34-17 vote, and now  goes to the Illinois House.

In 1990, the State of Illinois banned most privately run detention centers and prisons through its Moratorium Act, which passed with bipartisan support.  The law has kept private prison giants like Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group out of the Land of Lincoln ever since.

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Idaho's "Gladiator School" problems & history of private prison abuses

Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame:  Every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

This is the first in a two-part piece on the history of the State of Idaho's contracting with private prison corporations.

Idaho, despite a long run of horror stories and lawsuits involving private prison corporations, continues to contract with private prison companies like Corrections Corporation of America.  Here's the latest story:

"Guards at a private prison instigated - and watched - a gang fight that left him brutally beaten and unconscious, says a man who claims that Corrections Corporation of America guards "foster" brutality between inmates, and conceal injuries in the prison's "in-house" medical center. Jacob Clevenger sued Corrections Corporation of America, CCA Western Properties, and Philip Valdez, warden of the CCA's Idaho Correctional Center, in Federal Court." ("Brutality alleged at private prison," Courthouse News, March 26)

As we reported in November, Clevenger's accusations are not the first at the Idaho Correctional Center.  In fact, the facility has a reputation as being one of the most violent correctional facilities in the nation, earning its nickname “The Gladiator School” from people incarcerated there.

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"Live Free" ...or Die in a For-Profit Prison

New Hampshire Considers Prison Privatization

New Hampshire was the first of the thirteen colonies to declare its independence.  The nation’s first free public library was established in Peterborough. Revolutionary hero General John Stark coined the phrase that is still associated with New Hampshire, “Live Free or Die.” New Hampshire, where we experience the first primary in the nation every four years, is quintessentially a New England state, rich and a little quirky in manner and politics and history.  And it is, these days, possibly a player in the private prison industry’s massive attempt to privatize our nation’s prisons and departments of corrections.

A House and Senate committee to develop a plan to privatize the Department of Corrections in The Live Free or Die State, New Hampshire, will report its findings and recommendations to the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, the house clerk, the senate clerk, the governor, and the state library on or before May 1, 2012.

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"Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act"

We often use this blog to explore some of the terrible decisions made by policy makers, elected officials and private prison personnel. Today, however, we have something to celebrate in Florida.

Thanks to Representative Betty Reed (D-Hillsborough), House Bill 367, prohibiting the use of restraints (shackles) on incarcerated women in labor, delivery and recovery, passed in a 114 to 1 vote in the House.  Only Darryl Ervin Rouson  (D-St Petersburg) voted against the bill. Previously, Senator Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) and her colleagues passed the identical Senate bill, SB 524, in a unanimous decision.

When the bill becomes effective in July of this year, Florida will become the first southern state to ban the shackling of pregnant women in their third trimester and during childbirth.  That leaves thirty-five states across this country that allow the shackling of pregnant and birthing women.

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“Whack-A-Mole” in Michigan

Keeping up with the goings-on of the private prison industry is like playing “Whack-a-Mole.” Every time you smack down a proposed prison, another one pops up elsewhere, like the pesky critter in the old carnival game. Just a few weeks ago, an extraordinary coalition of people of faith joined with labor, and civil and human rights groups to expose Florida’s hasty attempt to deliver more than two-dozen, publicly-run prisons into the hands of the private prison corporations.  It would have been the largest mass prison privatization in the history of the nation.  But on-the-ground pressure coupled with solid research and data helped move the issue. The bill was eventually defeated by just two votes.

These past few weeks the for-profit prison industry has its sights on Michigan.  The Michigan House of Representatives is considering bills HB 5174 and HB 5177 to reopen a youth correctional facility in order to house adult inmates. The North Lake Facility for Youth, or Baldwin facility, was opened in 1998 by Wackenhut Corrections Corporation – now know as The GEO Group shuttered the facility in 2005.  GEO, in a speculative move with high hopes of filling the prison with Californians, expanded the prison from less than 500 to about 2400 beds. The expected California contract did not fully materialize and the GEO Group’s Lake County facility, dubbed the ‘punk prison’, stood empty for some years.  See more about Wackenhut/GEO Group’s atrocious track record at the youth facility after the jump.

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An Eye on Crete

Just a few years ago, as Illinois folks scratched their heads about a privatized Chicago Skyway, for-profit parking meters, parking lots and more, there was real confidence that even though the move towards privatization was strong, prisons and detention centers would be safe because of the Private Correctional Facility Moratorium Act.

In 1990, the State of Illinois, with bi-partisan support, banned most privately run detention centers and prisons through the Moratorium Act.  The law has kept private prison giants Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group out of the Land of Lincoln.  Read some of the text of that bill (730 ILCS 140/2) (from Ch. 38, par. 1582) after the jump.

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